Only at God's Mercy
Manage episode 338521972 series 3038820
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Good morning. Welcome to Mosaic Church. My name is Jan, one of the pastors, along with Pastor Shane and Pastor Andy. If you're new or visiting, we'd love to connect with you. We do that through the connection card in the worship guide. You fill it out legibly, and then just toss on the offering basket when it comes around after, and we'll get in touch with you over the course of the week. We have a members' meeting coming up, I think it's September 11th, and we have a membership class, I think it's the following week, September 18th. So if you are a member, plan to come to the members' meeting. If you are not a member, you'd like to become a member, come to the membership class. I think it's in the 18th. All the stuff's in the bulletin.
With that said, would you please pray with me over the preaching of God's Word? Heavenly Father, we thank you for the richness of the epistle of Romans. We thank you for the truth of the gospel, that we are completely, totally, utterly at Your mercy. That's how sinful we are. That's how lost we are. That's how dire our situation apart from you. Lord, that's where we want to be, like King David when Nathan comes to him and calls him to repentance and gives him options of punishment. David said, "I'd rather be cast at the mercy of God." So that's what we cry out today, Lord. We plead for mercy. We thank you that Your Son Jesus Christ, He was not given mercy on the cross as He endured Your wrath for our law-breaking. He did that in order to extend mercy to us. We thank You, Lord, and we thank You for the gift of salvation. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
So we today are continuing our sermon series through Romans. We're in chapter nine, verse 14 through 23. Next week, we're going to pause. We'll do a two-week series. We annually do this about our values, our vision, our philosophy of ministry. It's our Love Jesus Simple two-week series. That's next week and the following week because this is a time of the year where a lot of people are church shopping. And if that's you, well, you know what? God told me to tell you this is the church for you. So your shopping experience is over. We've got everything you need. We've got the Word of God. And we need help. We need you.
To the sermon. The title is Only at God's Mercy. Have you ever been at someone's mercy, completely at someone's mercy where they have complete leverage over you, power, authority to do you harm or good, and there's nothing you can do to persuade them one way or another? This is how scripture talks about salvation, that we are totally at God's mercy. We're so at God's mercy we can't even cry out mercy unless God gives us mercy to cry out mercy.
I remember almost drowning as a kid. I think I was seven or eight. I jumped in the pool and I didn't know how to swim. I didn't think that was going to be a problem, and apparently it was. I tried to yell help, and I knew if I yelled help the lifeguard would help me. I was in a problem, I couldn't yell help. I was drowning. And then some older kid gave me a boost. He gave me a boost, and that's all I needed.
You're completely at someone's mercy. It's not just relying on God's mercy, we're completely at God's mercy. That's the plain force of the text, it's so clear. But because it's so clear and the message is so clear, it offends people. It should not. God's sovereignty must be understood against the backdrop of how sinful we are. Everything he said in Romans 1, in Romans 2, in Romans 3, gets to Romans 3 and he says, "No one seeks after God. No one seeks for salvation. No one merits salvation. No one's out there looking for salvation unless God first saves them, unless God pours out mercy on them so that they can start asking for mercy." So this whole salvation process must be traced back to God's mercy, not man's choice or goodness.
And Paul, the seasoned apostle, he has taught this truth often, many occasions, and he's heard all the objections and all of them can be distilled into two. And that's the objections that he's dealing with. The first is, "Hey, this just isn't fair. If God wills that some person is saved and another person is not saved and it only, only ultimately is based in God's will, then that's not fair. He's not treating people fairly. He's doing for some what He will not do for others, even though they are equally undeserving." And then along with the not fair charge, God's hit with the, "How can you hold me responsible charge? If I'm just a lump of clay, how can I be responsible for being a lump of clay? That God makes two kinds of vessels from the same lump of clay and the difference between them, which lump of clay is saved and which is lost, it's only in the heart of the creator. Doesn't that make God unjust? I'm not guilty." That's really the objections that he's dealing with.
By the way, he knows these objections come when he presents the true teaching of the gospel. So if you're presenting the true teaching of the gospel and you never get these objections, "Hey, that's not fair." or "How can God hold me a responsible?" if you never hear those objections, then you probably do not understand the fullness of the gospel as we'll see in Romans 9. So how do I deal with those tensions because I've been swimming in the depth of the waters of election for the past three weeks? My whole ministry, I've been waiting for this text. I've been chomping at the bit for this one. I wanted to call this one Double Predestination, but that wasn't going to get us all the clicks that we want. Maybe I should have done that. Maybe we still should do that because the elect will be drawn.
No, but here's how I deal with it, "I hear what you're saying. It's only terrible if you're a vessel of wrath prepared for destruction. If you're a vessel of mercy prepared for mercy before the foundation of the world, well then it's pretty tremendous that God chose me to be a vessel of mercy. I could have been a vessel set apart for destruction. That choice is not up to me, it's only up to God." And that's where Paul wants to take us. He wants to say, "Christians, stop fighting this. Receive this doctrine. It's a difficult doctrine, but receive it because it's going to deepen your understanding of God. It's going to deepen your understanding of God's grace. It's going to deepen your understanding of mercy. It's going to deepen your whole understanding of Christianity."
And then if you ask, "Well, how do I know which I am? Was I predestined to be a vessel of mercy or predestined to be a vessel of destruction?" The only answer I can give you is, have you tried casting yourself at the mercy of God? That it. That's how you discern which one you are. God says to everybody, "Come onto me and I will give you mercy. Cry out for mercy." I've also never met a person that genuinely, heartfelt, repentantly coming to God and saying, "God, give me mercy," and God refuses. I've never met a person like that.
So as we dive into this text, throw yourself at the mercy of God. Romans 9:14-23, would you look at the text with me? "What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means. For He says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.' So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, 'For this very purpose I've raised you up, that I might show My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth." So then He has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens whomever He wills. You will say to me then, 'Why does He still find fault? For who can resist His will?' But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, 'Why have you made me like this?' Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy which He has prepared beforehand for glory?
This is the reading of God's holy, inerrant, authoritative Word. May He write these eternal truths upon our hearts. If you've ever heard a sermon on this text, this is the part of the sermon where I'm supposed to say, "Hey wait, wait, everybody, before you leave, let me just say the text is not saying what you think the text is saying." That's what I'm supposed to say. "He's not saying the thing that's offending you, because if you are offended," and this is what our culture teaches, "your sensibilities are infallible. And if you get offended, then you must be correct." Scripture says, "No, no, no, no, that's not how it works. Who's correct is defined by God and His Word. So no, no, no, I'm here to say, "What the text says, that's what it means. That's what it says. That's as clear as day."
My three points: first, is God unjust? Paul's answer and God's answer is, "No, human." Second is, how's that fair? And the answer to that is, "Who are you?" The only thing we can do with this text is cry out for mercy. And once you receive mercy, cry out in praise. So first, is God unjust? His response is, "No, human," and he puts us into our place. "What shall we say then, is there injustice on God's part?" "By no means," that's his answer, "for He says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.'" So is God unjust? No, He is not. And then he brings in mercy. What's the connection between justice and mercy? That's what he's wrestling with.
One of the things we need to understand is we can never attribute unrighteousness to God in dealing with His creatures because God is holy by definition. And, in order to determine what is right or wrong, what is just or unjust, what is good or evil, the only standard, the line of demarcation that we have is God's character. So God acts justly because God always acts in accordance to His holiness. So everything that God does is always just. God is the definition of justice. When God acts, God acts justly. Why? Because God has a monopoly on truth. God has a monopoly on the law. God, He's literally the one that makes all the rules of what's just and what's unjust.
The quotation here that he takes about God saying, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,' God is saying that to Moses, and He's saying that to Moses in the context of Exodus 32 where God gives His law to Moses on Mount Sinai. God writes His law with His finger. In the context of the larger context, God brought Israel out of captivity. He clearly showed all of His power on Pharaoh, on the Egyptians. It was miracle after miracle after miracle, culminating in the Passover where the first-born of everyone's household that was not covered with the blood of the lamb, those people would die. God sent a judgment. God brought them out miracles upon miracles, and then God's like, "All right, you're my people. I have saved you. I've poured My mercy on you. I'm going to give you my law so that you know what my Word, so that you obey and pursue a life of obedience and faith."
And so, Moses goes on the mountain, he's pumped, he's with God, he's got the laws, he's excited. And on his way back from the mountain, he finds out that these people are worshiping a golden calf, that Aaron, who's supposed to be his partner in righteousness, well, turns out to be his partner in crime, Aaron made them the golden calf. What they're doing, they're worshiping an idol and having an orgy. That's what's happening. Moses is coming down the mountain, and God says, "I am going to kill everybody. I'm killing everybody. Moses, I'm killing everybody." Moses is like, "God, don't kill everybody because then all the people that we told that you're going to save us, they're going to be like, 'Oh, that God saves people only to kill them.' Don't kill everybody. Don't kill everybody. Let me intercede." So that's what was happening.
And then, Moses's intercession is he takes the Levites and he's like, "All right, gentlemen, grab your sword." And then they go through the camp and he says, "Kill your brothers. Just go punish them." And then God on top of that, God's like, "All right, my anger, my wrath is assuaged a little bit." And then he still sends them a plague. That's Exodus 32 in a nutshell. That's the context for this verse. Finally, God's like, "With the remnant of Israel, I didn't kill everybody, I should have killed everybody, with the remnant that I had mercy on, I am going to create a great people with you." Moses says, "God, look, these people, they're exhausting. They're stiff-necked. They're exhausting. God, can You do this, can You show me Your glory? Because that's going to make all this work worth it. I just need Your glory. Can You please reveal your glory to me?"
And that brings us to Exodus 33:18-23 where, "Moses said, 'Please show me Your glory." and He said, 'I will make all My goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name, "The Lord." And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,' He said, 'you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.' And the Lord said, 'Behold, there was a place by Me where you shall stand on the rock, and while My glory passes by, I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away My hand, and then you shall see My back, but My face you shall not see.'"
So Moses is begging God, "Send me glory. God, send me glory. Show me Your glory." And He said, "I will." This is how God reveals His glory, He says, "This is My name. I am the Lord. And I'm going to really reveal a part of my character that reveals just how glorious I am." And He says, "I will be gracious on whom I will be gracious, and I will have mercy on whom I will show mercy." So He's saying, "Do you want to see how glorious I am, Moses? I choose whom to save, and I choose whom to not save."
Mercy implies a benefit one does not deserve. We don't deserve mercy. We're not entitled to mercy. God would have been just to save absolutely nobody, just like He chose not to save the fallen angels. They rebelled, and now they're condemned for all of eternity. There is no redemption for the fallen angels. That was God's decision. But the fact remains that no one has a claim in salvation because no one deserves it. Everyone ultimately will receive what they deserve. Some will be beaten with many stripes and some with a few, but everyone eventually gets what they deserve unless God pours out His mercy on them to satisfy every principle of justice just as He did when He sent His Son to the cross for people's sins.
How is that fair? How is it fair that anybody gets saved because Jesus Christ got punished for my sins? How does that make any sense? That's not fair either. Paul's like, "If you want fair, we're all going to hell. Be happy that there's this thing called mercy and that God gives it to some people. And it depends ultimately on God." Romans 9:16, "So, then, it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy." What's the word it mean? What is it referring to? "So then it depends not on human... " Well, it's the word mercy. That's the context of verse 15, and he repeats it again in verse 16. So then it, the mercy, receiving mercy depends not on human will and not on exertion.
Man's will and exertion are not for this reason of no consequences. In chapter 10, he's going to be hitting responsibility. You are to repent and belief. "You are to confess the name of Jesus Christ. You are to you trade your sin for a life of righteousness. Yes, receive God's grace. You, you, you, you." But before he gets to the you, he wants to park us here and says, "You can't do a thing unless God gives you mercy." If you think that you have some claim on God's salvation, some right to it, that there is some kind of consideration in you that obliges God to be merciful, you don't understand what mercy is, partially because in the words of Anselm, you failed to consider the terrible weight of sin.
As you approach this text, are you coming to this text knowing how unworthy you are, knowing how sinful you are, knowing that we do deserve to be passed by? We deserve to not be chosen to God's kingdom. We deserve not to be adopted into His family, but He chose to give us mercy. He continues in verse 17, "For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, 'For this very purpose, I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.'" So in verse 17, Paul is continuing to list out the illustrations of God's sovereignty now citing the Lord's own words from Exodus 9:16. So he first cited God speaking to Moses, "I will give mercy on whom I will give mercy to." Now it's words that He's speaking to Pharaoh. He says, "There's a flip side to salvation where God does harden specific sinners." And know how the scriptures personified. "It's as if God Himself is saying, because He is for this very person, "I have raised you up that I might show My power on you."
The point of this citation is to illustrate that underneath everything that happens in this world, God is sovereign. Pharaoh is definitely an actor in the great drama. He did what he pleased. His exertions were real, but he completely served God in the entire affair. God had a purpose for Pharaoh's life, and the purpose was to not show him mercy. It's clear in Paul's thinking that God raised up Pharaoh for the very specific role in redemptive history. He raised him up and said, "I'm going to bring you to power for the sole purpose to crush you. I'm going to raise up an enemy that I will destroy."
You know how we tell everybody, "God has a plan for you," and we quote Jeremiah, and we're like, "God has a good plan for you to further you and prosper you." Well, sometimes that's not true. "Pharaoh, I have a great plan for you. I'm going to raise you up and then I'm going to humiliate you, as I have mercy on these people that you have enslaved." That's what the text is saying. Romans 9:18, "So then, He has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens whomever He wills." And now, if you're familiar with the Exodus account, you know the importance of the word hardened, that sometimes it's God hardening the heart of Pharaoh, and sometimes it's Pharaoh's heart being hardened toward God and it's his initiative.
And then there's theologians, they go back and forth, they're like, "Well, there's five of these verses and five of these verses, so who's doing the hardening, is it God or is it Pharaoh?" We don't have to go to Exodus. Romans 9 clearly tells us who initiates the hardening. It's God. God, in verse 18, He hardens whomever He wills. God hardened Pharaoh's heart so that he wouldn't release Israel from captivity until God was good and ready to destroy him demonstrably, dramatically, decisively, so that God gets the glory in that whole event. And it's meant to prefigure the atonement of Christ, the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world.
This text is given to us so that we know in the final, in our salvation, the final, the ultimate decision, it's not ours. It's not ours. And I said this last week, if your theology has you making the decision, ultimately, then you don't know Scripture. In your salvation, who holds the ultimate trump card? Do you make the difference between you going to heaven or hell? If you are the one who makes the difference, then you have the power to save yourself, and salvation isn't a gift. It's not mercy. It's not grace. It's you saved yourself by you calling on the name of God.
This Scripture says the only reason you called on the name of God is because God gave you the gift. In all such schemes, God does not do for those who are saved anything that He does for those who are not. So if you teach Arminianism or semi-plagiarism, if you say the person's responsible, then ultimately God just provided the gospel for everybody, but you are the one that has to save yourself. And Scripture clearly does not teach that. And also, if you are the one that did it, then you can always undo it. Scripture says, "No, if God poured out His love on you, you are His forever." God is absolutely free to be merciful to those whom He wishes. He's equally free to harden those whom He will harden. God is merciful, and sinful men and women can do nothing to earn it, nothing to get that mercy. Is mercy truly mercy if it's given for a defined behavior? No, no. It's just God decides whom to give it and whom not to give it.
Now, why? Why? We can't say that it's arbitrary because nothing God does is arbitrary. We should say that God does this according to His own sovereign purpose. Sometimes He reveals what the purpose is, like with Pharaoh. Most of the time, He doesn't. Three errors before I move on to the next point. First error we got to avoid in speaking about this topic, some argue that God, He chooses his purpose, and the reason why He does is external to Himself. So He sees something in a person, He's like, "Yeah, I'm going to choose you because I see that you're going to be good in My kingdom. And then, no, you, I can see you're terrible. You're going to be a terrible recruit. I'm not choosing you." That's not how it works. The reason of why one person's chosen and the other isn't, it's only internal to God. God decides. That's it. So we can't go outside of God because Scripture doesn't allow that.
The second error is it's just uncomfortable to talk about. Three weeks of election and CG, let's not talk about this. It makes people uncomfortable. Let's just talk about mercy. Let's only talk about mercy, mercy, mercy, mercy. The reason we don't do that is because Scripture doesn't do that, Paul doesn't do that. He doesn't go from chapter eight to chapter 12 and he is like, "Nine through 11, that's the appendix, not everyone can handle it. We're just going to send it to the really, really erudite Christians." No, he gave it to everybody, and we're going through scripture verse by verse and we get to a text and we're going to handle the text even if it makes us uncomfortable, because then we got to ask, "Why am I uncomfortable?" and then you get to deeper issues of, "You know what? I think I'm uncomfortable because I'm in judgment over God, which is sin, and I should repent."
And then the third error to avoid is that to assume that we can observe a person, look at them from the outside, and be like, "Yep, you're definitely elect. You dress like you're elect. You have an elect haircut. No, we have no idea who's elect and who's not. You see a human being, that's an image bearer of God. You love them with everything you got, and you share the gospel with them in faith that God has brought this person into your life because they're probably elect and He brought them into your life for the purpose of you ministering to him and telling him about the tremendous gospel of Jesus Christ. And because you know that God is sovereign, God can save them at any moment as they hear the gospel, so our only job isn't to worry, is this personal elect or not? My only job is to preach the gospel, just to explain to them, "Hey, are you a vessel of wrath set apart for destruction? That's what it looks like because your whole life is like a dumpster fire. It looks like you need Jesus a lot. Right now, this isn't working out for you. I know where you're headed. You should jump from this vessel to the vessel of mercy. Instead of going down river to hell, let's go to heaven together and spend eternity."
That's my only job, preach the gospel. That's it. And then once people become a Christian, we're like, "You're so proud." And they're like, "Why am I proud?" "Because you think you saved yourself." And you're like, "What do you mean I didn't save myself? I chose Jesus." And then we explain to them that you didn't choose anything, Jesus chose you. So that's good for our humility.
Point two is, how is that fair? His only answer is, "Who are you?" That's his only answer Romans 9:19, "You'll say to me then, 'Why does He still find fault? Who can resist His will?'" This is Paul's answer... We could get to all the hypothetical answers. He just says, "Who are you? Who are you, O man, to answer back? Will what is molded say to its molder, 'Why have you made me like this?'" What he's saying is there is a qualitative difference between creator and creation. It's not just quantitative, it's qualitative. He's totally other than we are. God is free completely. Paul doesn't answer as we might expect. There's no logical explanation of how God's will interplay with human responsibility. No, instead of taking the defensive where he is like, "Oh, you raised a good objection," he doesn't do any of that. All Paul says is, "Shut your mouth. That's it. That's the answer. You're a human being. Shut your mouth. You have no right to speak back to the creator. He created you."
He could have said, "Well, the human will isn't nullified and you still are responsible." He'll do that in chapter 10, he's going to get the emphasis on, but here he just wants to put us in our place. Sometimes that's what we need. Sometimes we are arguing with God, we're arguing with God. You just need a megaphone from heaven. We don't have one, so just pretend it's me. I'm the megaphone. I've been sent here to tell you, "Shut your mouth. Sit there, be quiet, take God's Word, and meditate on it. It's going to be really helpful." That's why he says, "You're merely a person. How can you judge your own creator? He can do whatever He wants with you. He is the molder. He is the pot-maker." Verse 21, "Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump, one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?"
And here what he's doing is contrasting the saved and the lost. But more to the point, by putting the matter in this way, he is calculating to be offensive. He is making it unmistakably clear what he is actually saying, that salvation is God's doing, and the difference between the saved and the lost is the sovereign will of God. What this text is clearly saying, and he's going to continue it as he goes through, what he is saying is, "It's ultimately up to God." You have objections, "That's not fair. How can I be held responsible?" Paul's answer is, "Whatever God does is fair. Shut your mouth and ask for mercy." That's what he's saying.
Verse 22, "What if God, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory." I don't even need to exegete the text. It's absolutely clear. It means exactly what he's saying, that God, before anything, creates some people to go to heaven and others He creates to go to hell. That's what the text is saying. What's the purpose? "In order to make the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy."
The reason He does it is so Christians don't debate this ad nauseam, but for Christians, take it, take this hard truth that humbles us. He wants us to take it and glorify God for it. The reason why I'm so excited about this topic is because I love it. I absolutely, unabashedly love the doctrine of election. My heart gets filled with this incredible warmth when I read it, partially because God is God. This doctrine allows God to be God in all of His greatness in all of His freedom. It's a grander vision of God than just the like buddy Jesus doll, like He's here for you.
This God could have made me a vessel of wrath prepared for destruction. I deserved it. God would have been just; He's God. But I'm not a vessel of destruction. I love Jesus Christ, and that's not my doing. I love the Holy Spirit, that's not my doing. I love God the Father, that's not my doing. I love holy Scripture, that's not my doing. I love obeying God, that's not my doing. None of it is my doing. God just chose to make me a vessel of mercy, not because of anything in me. This absolutely levels you with the ground.
There's no pride left. There's no ego left. This absolutely shrinks us. I'm telling you, I've learned this from personal experience, I am at my best when I am at my least. You are at your best when you are at your least. When you are the absolutely most humble, that's when human beings are the best. They're kind, and they're gentle, and they're selfless, and they care for other people. You're at your best when there is no ego, where everything you do is because of love for God and love for people. That's why I love the doctrine of election because, first of all, it glorifies God, it humbles me. And I think it's important because it does take humility to receive a word like this.
If this is the first time hearing it and you're like, "I don't like any of this. This is real," just check if pride is the thing in the way and repent and receive God's mercy. Nothing humbles me more than knowing I'm only saved by the grace of God. It deepens my thanksgiving and strengthens my sanctification. And yes, there is a dark side of election. Romans 9:6-23 teaches that individuals become Christians only because God, by a free act of His will, chooses them, predestines them to faith and glory. Our turning to Christ in faith is a real decision. We make it. It is essential for us to be saved, but we only turn to Christ because God elected us. If predestination is true, double predestination is true as well even if you don't want to say it out loud.
This text teaches it clearly, God chooses who goes to heaven and God chooses who goes to hell. Both human salvation and damnation are sovereign acts of God. But the so-called dark side of election, it only looks dark if you're on the dark side. I'm just telling you, leave. Don't stay in the dark side. And then once you are transferred from the dark side into the light side by faith in Jesus Christ, then from this side, it's awesome. I'm telling you, the doctrine of election, it fills my heart with so much joy. Praise be to God.
Now, what do we do as Christians? The tape doesn't make any sense because people are like, "If God is sovereign, then why do I have to do anything if I'm saved already?" If you are saying that the only reason why you do things in Christianity is to not lose your salvation, then you don't know God. You don't know the joy of walking with the Lord. You don't know the satisfaction it is to commune with God, to abide with Him. Once you know God, you don't want to lose your salvation because you don't want lose God. You don't want sin. You want more of God. You want more of holiness. You want more of the Holy Spirit. And once you realize, "Oh wow, God made me a vessel of mercy, then I should be the best vessel of mercy I can be."
This is where I'm going to bring in 2 Timothy 2:20-26, where he uses the same concept of vessels, but now he's not talking about unsaved and saved, he's talking about those who are in the household. He's talking about Christians, and he's talking about different levels of use. So this is 2 Timothy 2:20, "Now in a great house, there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable." In a house, there's different pots, there's different vessels. Some are really nice, the gold and silver. You take those out when the in-laws come. In-laws come, you take the good stuff out.
And then for everyday use, you got vessels of wood. You just eat from the wood. Now, the clay vessels were used for something very particular. They were used for going to the bathroom. That's the clay vessel. What he's saying is that vessels of mercy, Christians, you're saved. You will be used by God one way or another. How do you want to be used? Do you want to be used like gold is used in a house, where your work is really important, you're holding the deliciousness, or do you want to be like the clay pot? It's still in the house, it's still useful, but no one really talks about it.
What he's saying is there's some Christians that God will use them as an anti-example, where they received the mercy of God and did very little with it, and just pursued a life of sin and the just-barely-Christians. And they weren't used by God. I'm saying this truth because I'm combining this with the teaching of election, because that one should melt your heart. And then you should say, "What should I do? Lord, what do you want me to do? I want to be a vessel of mercy for honorable use." Paul says it in 2 Timothy verse 22, "Flee youthful passions." He's talking about sexual sin. Youthful passions, flee that stuff, dishonorable sin, so that you can be used honorably. "Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart."
What he is saying is, "Flee sin and join a church. Get brothers and sisters in your life. You need community of brothers and sisters who want to fight the good fight of faith. And that's how you become more useful for the Lord." Verse 23, "Have nothing to do with foolish ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil after being captured by him to do his will."
What he saying is, "God saved you, vessel of mercy. Now cleanse yourself from everything that is dishonorable so that you can be used powerfully in the Lord's house to draw people to repentance so that these unbelievers seeing your life, your life of honor and loyalty to the Lord and love and grace and mercy and thanksgiving and joy, they see that and they want to be part of it." And he's saying, "Maybe God through your witness is going to save some." So that should be incentive enough for us to follow the Lord and to fight sin. That's not fair. How is this fair? Fair, fair, fair, fair, fair.
This teaching crushes our will, just completely. It crushes our human will. Here's what I do want to say about this, this is important, it's the only way our will can get freed. Because our will is not free. Our will isn't bondage to sin. That's why we can't choose God. That's why God takes truths like these, crushes our will. And then when our will is absolutely crushed, God can redeem. You need to know that you can't make new wine without crushing grapes. That's the teaching here. The Bible rests a great deal on the will of man, the exercises of that will, and lays the responsibility for condemnation on sinful people on. On them. The Bible says it's our fault; we chose sin. But the Bible unmistakably gives God all the glory for choosing us to salvation. He's absolutely sovereign. We are responsible. How's does it all work together? We'll find out in heaven. But this is true.
Why do anything if God is sovereign? It's a silly question. Why do anything? Because God is sovereign. God tells us to do it. He brings us the end and the means. He wants us to pray for people. He wants us to share the gospel. He's told us things to do so we do it.
I used to think of election like being recruited to the CIA. They show up out of nowhere, they know about you. They already chose you. But that's because you had a certain set of skills. If that's how you think of election, you're wrong. You had no skills. God actually probably chose you because you have very little skills. That's how God chooses people, like the most unlikely Christian. That's how I think of myself. I'm like, "I don't know why God picked me. I don't know." Here we are. No, no, no, you can't say He picked me because. That's pride. He picked you just because He decided that's how election works. We don't get recruited because the Lord saw some potential. No, the only good thing about us is that God poured out His mercy.
But this should still deepen our honor. He doesn't recruit us for a job. That's why a lot of theologians get bogged down in texts like this. What I try to keep saying to the church is we don't need just theologians at this church. We need soldiers that know that the Bible is a battle manual and that we're not just a study, study, study, study and never do it. No, no, no, we're told this to equip us so that we go and we make disciples of all nations. Lord, I'm honored to serve in your army. I'm at your service. What would you have me do? How can I be an honorable vessel? We'll talk about that actually in the next two weeks. Good.
And then point three is cry out for mercy and cry out in praise. How can I become a vessel of mercy? That sounds great, to become a child of God, have all my sins forgiven. Well, cry out to Jesus to save you. Jesus Christ went to the cross to save sinners. He shed His blood to pour out His mercy on sinners like me. So cry out. The best example I have of someone crying out to Jesus is a blind man on the road to Jericho. Luke 18:35, "As He drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by." And he cried out... " The guy, he can't even see Him. He has no idea if this report is true. He's like, "If there's a chance, I am going to scream at the top of my lungs. This is my one chance in life to scream at the Messiah, and maybe He'll have mercy on me."
"'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.'" That's all he said, "Have mercy." "And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, 'Son of David, have mercy on me.' And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, He asked him, 'What do you want me to do for you?' He said, 'Lord, let me recover my sight.' And Jesus said to him, 'Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.' And immediately he recovered his sight and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God."
Cry out for mercy, and once you receive it, cry out in praise. This is the point of this whole teaching, it is to bring us to loving giving God glory. God, I glorify your name. All glory, all praise to you. The reason I like this, I just love election, I love it, it zooms in on God. It zooms in, and it makes God massive. And when God is massive and we realize this God who is this great, this sovereign, He tells me, "Come onto me if you are burdened with your sin," and He welcomes everybody, so come to Jesus Christ, ask for mercy, receive it, and then Jesus tells you, "You did not choose me, but I chose you." Praise be to God.
Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we want to worship you now and give you all of the praise and the glory that you deserve. We deserve none of it. We deserve damnation. We deserve hell. We deserve separation from You. Instead, Lord, You came up with this incredible plan to save us. Before the foundation of the world, You chose us. Thanks be to Your Son Jesus Christ. You provided for the means of salvation through Your death, burial, and Your resurrection. We thank you, Holy Spirit, that You're with us. Lord, we pray that you just send elect, send your chosen, send your elect, save them powerfully in this church and show them that You have created us to glorify You, and when we glorify You, we experience the fullness of life. We pray all this in Jesus' name. Amen.